One location for <i>Massacre! The Musical</i> was in a tunnel at Quivey's Grove restaurant in Fitchburg.
We're in a tight close-up on actress Kelly Kiorpes' blood-spattered face. She's getting in character, taking on the cheerfully psychotic mannerisms of Massacre! The Musical's troubled protagonist, Discordia, and allowing me -- the director -- to once again cover her with fake blood. "How many gallons does this make now?" I wonder. I've been told this movie represents, on some level, a thinly veiled call for help. If that's true, then at least it's a gleeful one.
The thick arterial goo, made fresh in my kitchen just hours ago, trickles down the bridge of Kiorpes' nose, stalling momentarily on her upper lip before she licks it away. See, Discordia has just finished impaling one her friends with a javelin. I call "Action!" Our view slowly pulls back with the camera's, and we realize we're looking up at her smiling face through what used to be her friend's eye canal, now a juicy tunnel of gore. Discordia waves at Rob Matsushita (who is operating the camera) through the tunnel of meat. "Cut!"
Those familiar with Discordia's Sunshine Death, which was itself part of Mercury Players Theatre's "Revenge of the Mini-Musicals" last spring, will notice first and foremost that this telling of the story has a bloody good time covering everybody in blood.
Though the film version is most assuredly a comedy, I wanted it to be a lot darker than the stage play. It had to be. We had to go big with the death sequences, not just to satiate my own inner gorehound (which is alive and well, thanks, in part, to the performers' willingness to get caked with gore), but also to keep viewers teetering on the edge of wanting to laugh and wanting to cover their eyes.
"There are bits in this that are going to be creepy and really disturbing," says Matsushita, who co-wrote the original play with Morey Burnard. "I figure, while we're here, why don't we push this as far as we can?'
Like the stage production, the movie opens with a promise to the audience, wherein two detectives discover Discordia standing among her recently deceased friends while clutching an ax tightly to her chest and looking very much like a little girl whose mother just caught her with her hand in the cookie jar. Viewers already know Discordia's friends get killed. They just don't know how, and showing them is the fun part. Of course, Massacre isn't only about staging joyously Grand Guignol death sequences. There's far more than murder on its mind.
"Film is literal," says Matsushita. "You can joke about eviscerating someone on stage without actually showing it. That's not necessarily true in film.... Why not use geysers of blood? It's amazing how much of the movie Kelly [Kiorpes] spends covered in it. If we didn't 'bring on the claret,' so to speak, then some horror geek would call 'bullshit' on the entire production. Hell, I'm a horror geek. I'd be the first one to do just that."
No guts, no glory, I guess. And let me just say, this film has plenty of guts.